TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25                           LUKE 2:1-20                             LEE SWANN
In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. 2
This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. 4 Since Joseph
belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in
Judea. 5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. 6 While
they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly,
and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.8 Nearby shepherds were living in the fields,
guarding their sheep at night.9 The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were
terrified.10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your
savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped
snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They
said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” 15 When the angels returned to heaven,
the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has
revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this,
they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told
them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying
and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.

When Rev Bev asked us to consider offering an “Advent Devotion” based upon provided scripture, I chose December 25,
INTENTIONALLY. The “instructions” said the ADVENT “Theme” will be “presents,” based upon a Christmas poem that talks
about 4 kinds of Christmas gifts: 1.Things we want; 2.Things we need; 3.Things we wear; 4.Things we read. I have never
heard of this poem (still have not read it). So, I am going to relate some of my Christmases past; not for sympathy or a pity
party, just for the Grace that God has given/shown me over the years, in spite of my unworthiness.

I was raised by a single mom since I was 4 years old. Christmas has always been very special to me, for many reasons. We lived
6 blocks from the State Capital in Little Rock, and the Christmas decorations were always spectacular; the Capital building outlined in red, green, and white lights; all the evergreen trees also lighted. There was a live nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus ON THE CAPITAL STEPS! The department stores had animated Christmas scenes in their windows, which were always exciting. I never experienced a white Christmas in all those years. Our snow (ice) was usually January/February.

The presents from my mother were practical, useful and needed. Mine to her were handcrafted things we made at the Boy’s
Club of America. She always managed to have fresh oranges and peppermint sticks to have on Christmas morning. At this time, I
was not “aware” of the “reason for the Season.” I just knew it was a special time of the year. There were three Christmases
when, if not for the Boy’s Club, I would not have had any Christmas; there just was not any “extra” money. My mother would
be sure we had a nice Christmas dinner, and sing carols and be happy we were together.

When my mother passed away in 1977, I was going through her papers and found her tax returns for those years; her gross
income for those years (1944-1948) was $2,400.00. The Boy’s Club had special Christmas parties and made sure all present
received a real stocking with Christmas candies, nuts, oranges, apples, and a small toy, in addition to a really nice big toy. Even
though it was the “Boy’s Club,” there were many girls present also. (There were Saturday morning activities, just for girls, so
they were included in the Christmas festivities.)

God has been good to me in my adulthood and allowed me to have some great daughters, with whom we have had many happy
Christmases. I am embarrassed to say, we have exceeded the 4 rules of giving with them. Our Christmas eves (at the Swann
abode) are hectic now, with daughters & significant others and lots of grandkids. Christmas 2017, we “adopted” a family for
Christmas and were able to provide some much-needed things for them, and some of it was part of the 4 suggested items, and
we do take the time to read & explain the true Christmas story and the reason for the season.

Prayer: For the Christ child!